Monday, 18 November, 2019

Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg resigns over 'recent events'

Cathay Pacific boss quits after protest row Cathay Pacific Airways CEO Rupert Hogg resigns
Russell Knight | 16 August, 2019, 16:16

The chief executive of Cathay Pacific, Rupert Hogg, has resigned in the wake of the protests in Hong Kong.

The airline also said that Ronald Lam has been appointed chief customer and commercial officer, succeeding Paul Loo.

Cathay Pacific needs new management to "reset confidence" because its commitment to safety and security were "called into question", the company chairman, John Slosar, said in a statement.

Mr Hogg said: "These have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company".

The 72-year-old airline has been left reeling after it became ensnared in the hardening of rhetoric from the communist mainland over ten weeks of anti-government protests that have plunged Hong Kong into crisis. Chinese state-owned companies have started boycotting Cathay, telling their workers not to fly with the carrier. "Someone is taking responsibility - they are acknowledging the importance of China and its shareholders".

The resignation was first reported by China's state broadcaster CCTV, which said Mr Hogg had quit without saying where it got the information.

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As Hong Kong's dominant local airline, Cathay was initially affected by the protests because the unrest put off tourists.

Cathay faced pressure online after China's state-run press fuelled a #BoycottCathayPacific hashtag, which trended on Chinese social media.

This week, Cathay Pacific terminated the employment of two pilots over their involvement in the protests, after being ordered by China's aviation regulator to suspend personnel who had engaged in illegal protests. Four days later, China's civil aviation regulator issued a major aviation safety risk warning to Cathay, and issued a detailed list of demands.

But it appears those moves were not enough to save its chief Hogg, who has been credited with helping to turn the airline profitable after two years of losses. Incursions into Asia from Middle Eastern rivals such as Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways PJSC, which targeted business travelers, also had an impact.

"Cathay Pacific is fully committed to Hong Kong under the principle of "one country, two systems" as enshrined in the Basic Law". It was unclear, however, if it would help revive the company's reputation on the mainland.

"For the India market, we would like to share that, at present, all flights from Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata to Hong Kong and return are operating as per schedule for 15 and 16 August 2019", the airline said in a statement on Thursday.

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